Nana-Korantema Koranteng is a second-year student in the CMES AM Program in Middle Eastern Studies.
Why did you choose CMES?
I selected CMES because I felt like it was the program that provided me with the most flexibility. Having gone to a liberal arts college for my undergraduate degree, I really value space to explore and move beyond my academic concentration. The interdisciplinary nature of CMES as well as the various cross registration opportunities through other Harvard Schools as well as Tufts and MIT was very important to me. I truly feel like I have been able to design an academic plan that fits my needs and unique goals.
What do you like best about studying at Harvard?
One of the best parts of studying at Harvard are the amazing faculty. While at Harvard I have had the opportunity to meet and interact with leading scholars in a variety of fields! My economics course was taught by a former head of the Council of Economic advisors and I was able to learn about nonviolent resistance from one of the foremost scholars of civil resistance. By far one of the most special experiences for me was during my first semester I took a seminar on Diasporic Muslim Fiction with Professor Leila Ahmed. Throughout out my undergraduate studies I had read much of Professor Ahmed’s work in my courses as I pursued my interest in women in Islamic Traditions. I can still remember emailing my old academic advisor after our first class in awe of Professor Ahmed’s intellect and down to earth nature. At Harvard, you truly are amongst the top innovators and scholars of the world.
What do you like best about living in Cambridge?
I moved to Cambridge from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, excited to have a change in scenery and weather—it didn’t disappoint. My favorite part of living in Cambridge is the fact that you can walk everywhere! Whether you need to get groceries or just want to grab a drink with friends, you can find several options in nearly every direction. I’ve never lived in a city that didn’t required a car, so this is something that I will truly miss.
What travel/research opportunities have you pursued during your time at Harvard?
Throughout the first year of my degree I participated in the various offerings of Harvard Divinity School’s Religion, Conflict, and Peace initiative (RCPI). Last January, I participated in a J-Term course in Israel and Palestine focused on narratives of displacement and belonging. Over the course of two and a half weeks we visited with various community leaders and stakeholders as we listened to their stories and tried to better understand how typologies of violence manifest themselves within Israel and Palestine. During the Spring term I then completed a special course in preparation for a Summer internship that I was set to complete in Haifa, Israel. Although travel restrictions prevented me from travelling, with the support of RCPI I was able to conduct a remote internship with a Palestinian Feminist organization called Kayan. While this experience was quite different from what I had imagined, my internship was a valuable learning opportunity and allowed me to support important work related to gender justice and equality.